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What is the New Norm?

A look at how easing lockdown in the UK might look

In the UK, we are in our 7th week of lockdown, are we at all able to speculate what the ‘New Norm’ might look like?

Word on the street says school pupils of Primary 7 (Scotland) and Year 6 (England) age will be able to return to school from the 1st of June; a Guardian report suggests.

This could be digested differently in Scotland, with the 1st Minister able to make decisions separately if needed, from the rest of the UK. She has worked in coherence thus so far, however.

Some speculate that opening schools as early as June is a little impulsive, and in this sense; it is thankful that health is devolved to the Scottish government. 

It is crucial to keep an eye on Denmark, as reported in previous posts; it has already re-opened its primary schools. 

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And What of Denmark?

Denmark has seen an increase in the R rate-a measure to signify the number of transmissions, which needs to stay below 1. If the number stays below 1-the number of people subsequently affected by one infection, is less than 1. Whereas, in normal conditions-up, 3 people are affected by one infection. The R rate in Denmark has gone from 0.6 to 0.9 since the re-opening of schools and nurseries.

Although the R is still under 1, it is a little too close for comfort and suggests Denmark was perhaps too quick to bring schools back into the equation. The strategy there seems to have classes split into no more than 10 pupils, but full capacity seems to have been maintained; with students still playing together at break times.

And What of Nurseries?

And what of nurseries? It is very surprising Denmark has allowed nurseries to return since social distancing is practically impossible under the age of 4.

What do you do then? It is vital nurseries are available to people, in order for people to return to work. Yet, how do you maintain order within a nursery?

One nursery in London on BBC Breakfast News today reported some of the measures they are considering, in the lead up to re-opening. Masks have been trialed with children, but they found them too scary (I empathize). They were also querying the use of visors and the mandatory use of other PPE equipment. 

Having worked in nurseries myself-I do feel concerned about how safe this will be and how manageable? I feel numbers and variables will be the driving element in maintaining safety; according to the age of the children. To have any more than 3 toddlers for example in a room, to my mind-would be dangerous. 

For each year of a child, they can maintain a 3-5 minute attention span. (Summit Medical Group)

Toddlers therefore can only sustain attention for an absolute maximum of 10 minutes and most will not manage anywhere near this. As such, they cannot be expected to take part in a group activity for the entire duration of the visit, in order to keep them socially distanced. It would be harmful to them to limit exploration and freedom of movement which they need to thrive.

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This is going to be a logistical nightmare for the government, councils, and nurseries across the board. It will have a direct effect on how many people can return to work and at what capacity. Nurseries and schools will perhaps need to think of staggered attendance-10 school pupils per class on the Mon/Tue, the following 10 on the Wed/Thu, and the final 10 on Friday. Rotating the timetable around the following week.

And What of Families?

The closure of schools will already have had a colossal effect on working life for families, and it looks set to continue for some time. I feel that working from home will be the only logical way of managing the measures that will need to be taken in scheduling timetables.

Thankfully, they will coincide with the plans the government is considering when it comes to handling the numbers on public transport and in offices. It looks like there may be staggered work times as reported on Sky News (4th May 2020) for those who have to travel to work, otherwise, WFH will be highly encouraged.

As it is, many people are able to work from home; and have been doing so for some time. It is already the ‘New Norm’. Of course, parents do not usually have children at home whilst trying to work; and this understandably must be difficult, especially if they are young or need your support.

How is anyone meant to work and teach at the same time?

Now we are all well into the swing of a ‘different way of life. It would be hoped that families will have found a way to manage work and kids. I think people can only do the best they can, and employers can only ask for that. Delivering the same workload at home will simply be unobtainable for most families. It will massively rely on the counterbalance of both parents tag teaming and taking up the reins.

So, What is the New Norm?

For the time being, the ‘New Norm’ may be set to get stranger. Emerging out of quarantine like snails with parking attendants at their back. Everyday social interactions will have to be overseen. Even apps to record our interactions and whereabouts may become the ‘New Norm’. As of yet, we are not sure how this will all look.

So the ‘New Norm’ is yet unbeknownst, and forming as we speak. 

It is not surprising that many people will feel ill at ease with virus detection apps. Nevertheless, during this time, my gut feeling is: to cooperate and for that to come above all else.

Maybe this could be the New Norm.

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